Posted Feb. 9
OXFORD – The potent Miami (Ohio) offense just wouldn’t go quietly. Trailing Michigan 5-3 and at risk of being swept for the first time all season, the top-ranked RedHawks stormed back to tie the game in a matter of just over three minutes.
Though Miami had all the momentum in the final minutes, No. 2 Michigan held on for a tie and a critical conference point that, coupled with Bowling Green’s loss to Alaska, clinched it a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs.
The hectic conclusion started with a quirk and ended with a flurry.
Andy Miele’s second goal of the night came when the puck took an odd carom after fracturing the end glass. Michigan goalie Billy Sauer was caught out of position, giving Miele the entire net to shoot at.
Miami (17-4-1 CCHA, 25-4-1 overall) got even when Nathan Davis beat Sauer on a rebound shot three minutes later.
With its team back in the game, the Steve Cady Arena crowd erupted to its loudest volume of the weekend.
The Wolverines had their best chance to score during a scramble around the Miami net in the final minute, but the puck never crossed the goalline.
Michigan (16-2-4, 23-3-4) was powered by goals within the first 63 seconds of all three periods.
RedHawk captain Ryan Jones was called for contact to the head high sticking just 19 seconds into the game.
It didn’t take the Wolverines long to capitalize on the power-play chance. Brandon Naurato dished the puck from the corner to Travis Turnbull in the slot. Turnbull deked once and beat Miami goalie Jeff Zatkoff through the five-hole just 63 seconds into the game.
But after that early tally, the period belonged to the RedHawks.
Coming out with a great deal more intensity and a little more luck than Friday, Miami put two goals past Sauer in the first.
Freshman Max Pacioretty took an offensive-zone tripping penalty just over seven minutes in.
It looked like Michigan might extend its lead despite the disadvantage when senior Chad Kolarik had a shorthanded chance, but Miami transitioned quickly and benefited from a fortuitous deflection when Jones got the puck open in the slot and beat Sauer stick side.
Miami’s second goal came with a bit of luck, too.
On a seemingly harmless dump-in, the linesman tripped up Michigan junior Mark Mitera as he was retreating to grab the puck. With Mitera down, Pat Cannone and Miele skated in 2-on-1. Cannone dished to Miele whose shot just trickled over the goal line after Sauer got a piece of it.
Michigan scored another early goal in the second period.
Pacioretty intercepted a Miami clearing attempt in the slot and ripped a shot over Zatkoff’s glove hand just 23 seconds in.
Michigan carried the offensive pace through the first half of the second period, but Brad Robbin’s point shot gets through and beats Sauer just past the midpoint in the period to put the RedHawks back in the lead, 3-2.
This time, though, the Wolverines didn’t wait until after the intermission to get even. Kolarik got the puck at the top of the circle and skated into the high slot where he victimized Zatkoff’s glove side for a top-shelf goal with less than seven minutes left in the period. It was Kolarik’s 20th goal of the season. He and Kevin Porter, give Michigan the nation’s second pair of 20-goal scorers. Miami’s Jones and Justin Mercier were first.
The goal also marked the first time this season Miami has allowed more than two goals in consecutive games.
And before the break, Michigan got itself back in the lead.
Skating 4-on-4, Kolarik slid a crisp pass across the slot to Porter who easily beat Zatkoff with more than a minute to play in the period. The senior captain became the first Wolverine to score 25 goals in a season since Jeff Tambellini did in 2002-03.
Michigan had its second first-minute goal of the night when it scored 35 seconds into the period.
On the power play after Nino Musitelli was called for a checking from behind major late in the second period, Porter’s point shot was blocked but Miami couldn’t find it. Pacioretty snatched up the puck and surprised Zatkoff with a wrister, giving Michigan the two-goal it couldn’t hold.